How to get conservatorship for mentally ill

A Family Guide – BrightQuest Treatment Centers

February 27, 2019, Wendy Lee NentwigBrightQuest Treatment Centers

No one wants to take the decision-making ability away from a family member, but sometimes it’s necessary to step in when it means protecting your loved ones from hurting themselves or others. Mental Health Conservatorships are something most of us know very little about—but when you need one, you’re forced to take a crash course on the spot. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve been granted a conservatorship or are seeking one for your adult child or another family member who is in need of long-term mental health care.

Mental health disorders can make the most loving, bright individuals unable to care for themselves or make appropriate decisions about their everyday lives. Disorders like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, and severe cases of bipolar disorder can result in a parent or other loved being granted a mental health conservatorship, but that’s just the beginning of the process.

What does your newfound status as a conservator mean? What does this role entail? And, most importantly, where do you go from here?

No doubt, you’ve tried multiple options to help your loved one before arriving at this point. Hospitalization. Doctors. Medications. Mental health treatment is a long road, and conservatorships and long-term care are never the first choices. But when mental health issues are so severe that individuals are unable to hold down a job or follow an educational path and have difficulty with basic daily living activities, they can be the best options.

What Is a Mental Health Conservatorship?

Before you can determine what’s best for your loved one, though, it’s important to understand conservatorships and just how they work.

“A mental health (LPS) conservatorship makes one adult (called the conservator) responsible for a mentally ill adult (called the conservatee),” according to the Superior Court of California. It’s important to note that these conservatorships are only for adults with mental illnesses listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The most common illnesses covered by a conservatorship include serious, biological brain disorders like:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

LPS conservatorships (named for the California legislators who wrote the LPS Act in the 1970s, Lanterman, Petris, and Short) are not for people with organic brain disorders, brain trauma, retardation, alcohol or drug addiction, or dementia, unless they also have one of the serious brain disorders listed in the DSM.

How Does a Conservatorship Work?

An LPS conservatorship gives legal authority to one adult to make certain decisions for a seriously mentally ill person who is unable to take care of him or herself. The Court may give an LPS conservator the duty not just to take care of and protect the seriously mentally ill person, but also grant them the power to handle the financial matters on behalf of the seriously mentally ill person.

Some actions a conservator can take on behalf of their mentally ill conservatee:

  • Give consent to mental health treatment, even if the conservatee objects
  • Legally agree to the use of psychotropic drugs
  • Agree to place the mentally ill person in a locked facility, if deemed necessary or appropriate by a psychiatrist
  • Determine where the mentally ill person will live when not in a residential facility

Of course, to make these decisions, a conservator needs to have enough medical and social information to understand what is best for their loved one. Making the decision to place a loved in a long-term residential program can be a tough decision, and while not all conservatees require a locked facility, conservatorships are often established because a person’s symptoms become so severe that they interfere with their self-care and safety.

Establishing a Conservatorship

The Superior Court of California will not let you establish an LPS conservatorship unless it finds beyond a reasonable doubt, that the mentally ill person is gravely disabled. But how is that determined and just what constitutes “gravely disabled”? This isn’t a decision you can make. A psychiatrist authorized to do LPS evaluations makes that determination and issues a referral to the Office of the Public Guardian. Criteria for being found gravely disabled includes when, because of a mental disorder, a person cannot take care of his or her basic, personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter.

If the mentally ill person refuses to go to a psychiatrist, you can request help from county officials to get an involuntary evaluation. This can often be done through a county’s Mental Health Access Program. You can also look for public service mental health facilities online by searching for “County Government Offices, Mental Health.”

County officials act as a temporary conservator until the Court decides on your petition. This temporary conservatorship usually lasts for a period of 30 days. During this period, county mental health staff will continue to investigate the disability of your loved one. They will also protect and care for the mentally ill person and his or her finances. Before the 30 days end, a report will be filed with the Court declaring the mentally ill person is gravely disabled (if they have met the criteria) and naming the person they feel is best to become conservator.

I’m a Conservator, Now What?

If the Court decides to establish a conservatorship, the judge will give an order appointing a conservator. Once the paperwork is signed and filed, the conservator has the authority to act. Now that it’s official, what should be your next steps? Make duplicates or ask for certified copies of the paperwork so you can prove what powers you legally have. Also, it’s important to know that conservatorships are often for a limited time. In California, they only last for one year, and it is your responsibility to keep track of the dates and to renew the conservatorship on time.

The Financial Side of Conservatorship

Your primary duty as conservator is to find the appropriate care and treatment for your ward, but there may be financial duties as well. Checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit should be in your name as guardian or conservator, and all of your ward’s funds must be kept separate and apart from your own. Complete and accurate records must be kept of all money or other assets received and disbursed by you as guardian or conservator. In this case, a running list of receipts and expenses may be helpful because you will be required annually to file an accounting showing of all expenditures for the preceding year.

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When and How to Intervene

A mental health conservatorship is a big step and isn’t always necessary. If a friend or relative is acting strangely, you may be worried, but you may not be able to take legal action. If mentally ill individuals do not want to be treated, you can’t force treatment unless they are deemed a danger to themselves or others, or if they are proven unable to take care of themselves.

That doesn’t mean you’re out of options, though. If your friend or relative is mentally ill and a danger to him/herself or to others, you can:

  • Try to convince them to go with you to an emergency psychiatric facility
  • If there is an emergency, call 911 or your local police department (most officers are trained to handle mental illness, so explain the problem when you call)

If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.

What to Know About Conservatorships and Mental Illness

Source: David Veksler/Unsplash

Conversations about court-ordered conservatorships/ guardianships (the correct term depends on the state in which the proceeding is brought) have recently made their way into mainstream news. The New York Times-produced documentary about Britney Spears, along with the ongoing hearings about her own conservatorship, amplified voices behind the #FreeBritney movement, which seeks greater autonomy on behalf of the pop star. Then Republican lawmakers jumped into the conversation, requesting Congress to hold hearings on conservatorships out of concern that they “deprive individuals of personal freedoms at the behest of others through the manipulation of the courts.”

Few voices in these debates have demonstrated a full understanding of the criteria, purpose, and benefits of conservatorships/guardianships for those who suffer from serious mental illness or related mental health issues. As an attorney who concentrates on guiding families through the complex landscape of legal issues that impact loved ones with serious mental health issues, I thought it important to weigh in.

Why We Have Conservatorships

Historically, conservatorships/guardianships were designed to protect aging individuals with decreasing faculties from those set on taking advantage of them and securing their (often vast) resources. The statutes offer a means of assigning independent third parties the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf to best preserve their wellbeing and protect their financial interests.

Since then, the model has been adopted to offer similar protections for those who – due to a serious mental health condition – struggle to care for themselves and manage their financial affairs or use their own resources in their best interest. While statutes differ from state to date, they generally grant designated third parties the legal authority to perform such actions as, for example:

  • Accessing confidential information, such as financial and health records
  • Communicating with medical and mental health providers without the individual’s consent, though in their best interest
  • Hiring services to benefit the individual, including cleaning services, case managers, etc.
  • Encouraging compliance with medical and mental health treatment – for example, scheduling and accompanying individuals to their appointments
  • Marshaling assets and protecting them against frivolous spending
  • Paying bills
  • Entering into contracts (i. e., signing a lease)
  • Retaining counsel to defend against a civil proceeding, such as an eviction proceeding

Skeptics who view this authority as overly broad should understand that those petitioning for a conservatorship or guardianship must meet a high legal burden of proof demonstrating to a judge a person’s “incapacity,” meaning they cannot adequately understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of their own inabilities and are likely to suffer harm because of them. Even after this burden of proof is met, those assuming the role of conservator/guardian are subject to strict, ongoing court supervision, which provides oversight over key decisions (i.e., where an individual is living) and approval of fees for services.

Bigger picture, those critical of conservatorships/guardianships don’t often have a birds-eye view of the necessity of these laws and the crucial protections they offer. Many mental health conditions make individuals extremely vulnerable to injury, theft, and fraud, while preventing them from recognizing these vulnerabilities as well as other limitations. This can create a perfect storm that puts people in terrible personal jeopardy and financial distress. (For example, many people with bipolar disorder often engage in excessive spending during periods of mania, and can also find it challenging to stay employed.)

Conservatorships Are Not Always Forever

Conservatorships/guardianships don’t have to be permanent. Once in place, the legal burden shifts to the individual to demonstrate to a court that the conservatorship/guardianship is no longer necessary – that they can keep themself safe and manage their personal and financial affairs. This often serves as a motivator to help individuals become compliant with treatment, gain insight into their illness and stabilize, encouraging them to make the positive choices they need to stay healthy and independent.

As someone who regularly fields calls from family members who are frantic with worry about the safety of loved ones suffering from mental illness and related mental health challenges – including individuals who cycle in out of hospitals and jails, and often disappear altogether for weeks or months – I believe conservatorships/guardianships can be absolutely crucial. The regularity with which people with serious mental health conditions go off their medication, become symptomatic, and break with reality creates a clear need for the protections conservatorships/guardianships provide.

Those who care about the rights of individuals with serious mental health challenges could help by lobbying their representatives for more state and federal funding for crucial services like supportive housing and long-term treatment. These are programs that can go a long way toward helping individuals live full and independent lives, and support those who are able to petition and prevail in discontinuing their conservatorships/guardianships when their limitations or incapacities improve to the point of recovery and stability.

How to arrange guardianship of a mentally ill person and incapacitated person

In case of mental imbalance or physical illness, a guardian is assigned to the sick person.

Articles and the Civil Code of the Russian Federation dictate all this.

This material is about how to arrange guardianship of a sick person.

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Care of a bedridden patient

The inability to move independently makes a person's life much more difficult. The law provides for the possibility of providing assistance to such citizens.

Depending on the situation, the following may be appointed:

  1. Guardianship . If the patient is not only unable to move, but also does not realize the consequences of his actions. nine0030

Example . Irina, 28 years old, was a childhood invalid due to illness. Due to mental illness, she was deprived of legal capacity. The initiator of the process was the medical organization in which the woman was being treated. Irina lost the opportunity to independently represent her interests in state bodies, in court, receive a pension and manage it. The woman needs a guardian.

  1. Patronage . If a person is of sound mind, but cannot move independently. nine0030

Example . Victoria, 56, lived with her daughter and granddaughter. Due to diabetes, the woman's legs failed. She was fully aware of the consequences of her actions, but she could only move around in a wheelchair. Since the woman needed constant outside care, a social worker was assigned to her. However, Victoria retained her legal capacity, independently received a pension and disposed of it.

The example considers patronage accompaniment of a citizen who cannot move. In such a situation, the appointment of guardianship is not required. nine0003

In order to appoint guardianship over a bedridden patient, you must first deprive him of legal capacity. The issue will be settled in court. The claims of the plaintiff will be satisfied if there is an appropriate medical expert opinion.

recognition as incompetent


( 2 estimates, average 4. 5 of 5 ) 9)0074

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What documents are required for registration of guardianship of a person registered in a psycho. dispensary?


What documents are required for registration of guardianship of a person registered in a psychiatric hospital. dispensary?


According to Article 119 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Marriage (Matrimony) and Family”, guardianship or trusteeship is also established to protect the property and personal non-property rights and interests of incapacitated or partially capable adults. nine0013

Art. 323 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a case on recognizing a citizen as incapable due to a mental illness or mental disorder, dementia or other mental illness can be initiated in court at the request of family members, close relatives, regardless of their joint residence, a prosecutor, a body exercising functions under guardianship or guardianship, psychiatric (psycho-neurological) medical institution.

According to Art. 121 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Marriage (Matrimony) and Family”, guardianship or guardianship is established by the bodies exercising the functions of guardianship or guardianship, at the place of residence of the person in need of guardianship or guardianship, or at the location of the property subject to guardianship. In some cases, guardianship or trusteeship may be established at the place of residence of the guardian or trustee.

The court is obliged, within three working days from the date of entry into force of the decision on declaring a person incompetent or partially incapacitated, to inform about this the body exercising the functions of guardianship or guardianship at the place of residence of such a person in order to establish guardianship or guardianship over him. nine0003

Guardianship or trusteeship is established within a month from the moment when the relevant authorities became aware of the need to establish guardianship or guardianship over a person or guardianship over property.

Appointment of a guardian or custodian may be challenged by interested parties in court.

The law does not contain clear rules for formalizing guardianship of incapacitated adults.

However, according to Art. 122 of the Code, there are a number of restrictions for persons wishing to arrange guardianship. Based on the list of these restrictions, we can conclude that in order to obtain guardianship, it is necessary to submit the following documents to the social protection authority:

  • Declaration of desire to become a guardian;
  • Copy of ID;
  • Documents confirming kinship with the person for whom guardianship is being issued;
  • Notarized consent of the spouse, if the person wishing to be the guardian is married;
  • Marriage certificate, if the person wishing to be the guardian is married;
  • Statement of health of the person wishing to become a guardian;
  • Statement of health of the spouse of the person wishing to become a guardian, if such person is married; nine0030
  • Documents confirming the living conditions acceptable for a disabled person to live;
  • Certificates from drug and psycho-dispensaries confirming the fact that the guardian is not registered;
  • Certificate that the guardian has no criminal record;
  • Information about the income of the person who wants to become a guardian.

Thus, it is possible to establish guardianship only after declaring a person incompetent by a court. Therefore, the first step is to apply to the judicial authorities, if this has not already been done. After that, if the person is recognized as incapacitated, the court decision will be transferred to the social protection authorities, where you should apply with the list of documents listed above. nine0013

Good afternoon. The fact that a person is registered in a psychodispensary according to the law does not make him automatically recognized as incompetent.

Art. 18 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, no one can be limited in legal capacity and legal capacity otherwise than in the cases and in the manner prescribed by legislative acts.

Based on Art. 26 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a citizen who, due to mental illness or dementia, cannot understand the meaning of his actions or manage them, may be recognized by the court as incapacitated, in connection with which guardianship is established over him.

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